Avoiding back pain while raking leaves

Press Staff Writer

        The weather is getting colder and the leaves are quickly falling, giving many homeowners a new chore for the weekends.
        But before you grab that rake or leaf blower, it’s important to make sure you warm up first – otherwise you could get hurt.
        “We often underestimate maybe the ease of it. ‘Oh, I’m just raking’ – we put that in our heads, I’m just doing this thing, but actually when we do that repetitively it really does open the door for injury,” said Chad Adams, DC, chiropractor with Cleveland Clinic.
        Dr. Adams said raking leaves can be a pretty intense physical activity, one involving a lot of repetitive motions.  The same goes for when you’re using a leaf blower. 
        To help prevent injury, always lift with your legs, not your back.
        And don’t forget to stretch before and after you’re done. Some simple exercises you could do include shoulder circles, side bends, and pulling each knee to your chest while standing.
        Certain yoga poses, like getting on all fours and slowly arching your back up and down, are also great for your spine.
        “Quite often, people think if they have a strong core, they’re going to be okay. Unfortunately, that doesn’t cover all of the areas in the spine that are subject to these kinds of forces,” Dr. Adams said. “So having a daily, consistent routine, whether it’s leaf-raking season or not, is of the highest importance.”
        Dr. Adams said if you start to notice any discomfort or pain while raking, that should be your cue to stop for the day.
        And if the pain persists, you should get it checked out.


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